Rail strike chaos looms

RAIL strikes in East Anglia looks set to go ahead later this week, threatening travel chaos for commuters and other passengers, Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union and the drivers' union Aslef working at National Express East Anglia plan to walk out on Thursday and Friday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

RAIL strikes in East Anglia looks set to go ahead later this week, threatening travel chaos for commuters and other passengers,

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union and the drivers' union Aslef working at National Express East Anglia plan to walk out on Thursday and Friday in a dispute over pay and conditions.

The unions are planning six more days of strikes in the coming weeks if the dispute is not resolved, with the first day of action coinciding with an announcement by National Express of its half-year figures on Thursday.

The RMT called on the Government to end the rail franchise “circus” after transport giant Stagecoach said it was in exclusive talks with potential buyers of National Express over a possible break-up of the firm.


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General secretary Bob Crow said: “The suggestion of a Stagecoach takeover bid for National Express shows that the big players are still playing with the rail franchises like they are some giant game of corporate pass the parcel, with the travelling public and the workforce left holding the torn paper while the companies milk the system.

“National Express have made nearly half a billion in profits out of the railways in the past 10 years and have sucked in �2.5billion in public subsidies over the same period. With the collapse of their East Coast franchise that is reward for failure on a massive scale and it's no wonder our members on the East Anglia franchise are so angry that they are prepared to strike over a pitiful pay offer.”

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A spokesman for National Express East Anglia that, if members of both unions took industrial action as planned, it would not expect to be able to run any train services.

“We are extremely disappointed that the ASLEF and RMT unions have called this industrial action over their salary demands, despite lengthy negotiations where we have offered the unions a salary increase above the rate of inflation,” said the company.

“In the present economic environment - where many companies are freezing pay at current levels - we believe the offers we have made are both realistic and appropriate.

“Strike action is not the solution and we have made it clear that we are available at any time for constructive discussions with the unions to find a resolution to this year's pay award. Indeed, we will be doing all we can to reach a sensible and fair agreement which avoids disruption for customers and offers a realistic settlement for our employees.”

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